Testing Requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act and the 2017 Standards of Accreditation (Superintendent's Memo #299-18) & Additional Guidance (Superintendent's Memo #327-18), Virginia Department of Education, VDOE
A number of school divisions have asked for clarification regarding the testing requirements under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the 2017 revision to the Standards of Accreditation (SOA).
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
Under ESSA, students must be tested in reading and mathematics annually in grades 3-8 and once in high school (grades 9-12). In science, students must be tested once in elementary school, once in middle school, and once in high school. Students may meet the ESSA testing requirements by taking a Standards of Learning (SOL) test, or in the case of students with significant cognitive disabilities, participating in the Virginia Alternate Assessment Program (VAAP). Schools that do not test 95 percent of their students in reading and mathematics will be required to submit a plan to the Virginia Department of Education. ESSA does not require a plan for schools that do not test 95 percent of their students in science. Students who do not take the assessments are generally counted as non-participants in the relevant subject area. However, if parents refuse to have their students tested, the students will count as participants and receive a “0” score. As in previous years, the “0” score will be included in the school and division pass rates calculated for the purpose of federal accountability.
Superintendent’s Memo 327-18
As a reminder, the revised 2017 Standards of Accreditation (SOA) requirements for testing students who are enrolled in classes with end-of-course SOL tests are: (Emphasis added).
E. Each student in middle and secondary schools shall take all applicable end-of-course SOL tests following course instruction. The division superintendent shall certify to the Department of Education that the division's policy for dropping courses ensures that students' course schedules are not changed to avoid end-of-course SOL tests. Students who achieve a passing score on an end-of-course SOL test shall be awarded a verified unit of credit in that course in accordance with the provisions of 8VAC20-131-110. Students may earn verified units of credit in any courses for which end-of-course SOL tests are available. Students shall not be required to take an end-of-course SOL test in an academic subject after they have earned the number of verified credits required for that academic content area for graduation, unless such test is necessary in order for the school to meet federal accountability requirements. Middle and secondary schools may consider the student's end-of-course SOL test score in determining the student's final course grade. However, no student who has failed an end-of-course SOL test but passed the related course shall be prevented from taking any other course in a content area and from taking the applicable end-of-course SOL test. The board may approve additional tests to verify student achievement in accordance with guidelines adopted for verified units of credit described in 8VAC20-131-110.